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Sculpture of Saint Gregory the Great during restoration (photo : Greg Johnson Studio).

Church of Saint-Joseph, Deschambault

Region: Québec - Chaudière-Appalaches

The wood statues of the church of Saint-Joseph are attributed to François Baillargé and were probably executed between 1820 and 1824. The six statues represent Christ and the Virgin Mary, as well as Saint Ignace of Loyola, Saint François-Xavier, Saint Gregory the Great, and Saint Louis. The statues of Christ and the Virgin, slightly smaller than the others, were completely gilded while the representations of the saints were covered in polychrome paint. 

Sculpture of Saint François Xavier during restoration (photo : Greg Johnson Studio).

The statues of the saints were painted first according to the existing colors. Analyses revealed certain problems with the pigments and the paint, which was flaking off. Around 1950, all the statues were painted uniformly gray (even the two gilded statues). An examination of the paint layers revealed several successive coats of paint, the last of which was white-cream. The paints were to correspond to certain styles, gray to imitate stone, and white and cream to harmonize the ensemble with the decoration of the church.

Restoration work removed the successive layers of paint to get to the original finish. The gilded statues proved to be in very good condition, and gilding was necessary only on approximately 5% of the surfaces. The painted statues required small color touch-ups.